Home is calling...stuck at the edge of Antarctica.
Relaxed after a nights sleep and it is only now that I’m beginning to realise the effort and hardships that we had to endure down here in Antarctic to reach the Pole. We are so releaved to be back at, Patriot Hills base camp. We are ready to go home but Antarctic still has us in her grip. Gale force winds has prevented our plane from leaving Punta Arenas, in Chile, over 2800 km away.
Base camp, is the jumping point for most expeditions here in Antarctica and the season for expeditions and science projects is coming to an end. Our little base camp is filling up with adventurers, explorers and researchers, filing in here preparing to go home.This is one of the most unusual places that I have ever been.
Thanks to those at base camp on the ice.
It takes a lot of logistics to run an expedition down here and I would like to extend a special thanks to all the team at base camp here. To Mick Sharp, Steve Jones, Martin from South Africa, Victoria from Canada and Hans Christian from Greenland in communication.
To Mark, who kept us updated on the weather forecast over the last 60 days. To the pilots of the Twin Otter Monica and Eric who collected us from the South Pole and brought us back to Patriot Hills to complete the first leg of our journey home.
Sit and wait.
We will now sit and wait for the weather to improve. No use in complaining, we are in the most remote and hostile region on earth. It’s cold and windy today and getting frustrated at having to sit and wait. We will have a better idea of when our aircraft will arrive tomorrow or Monday. We are scheduled to leave Punta Arenas on the 15th and be home on the 16th. We may have to postpone our return a day or so if the weather doesn’t improve.
We will keep all our supporters informed over the next few days of our return date. As long as we are on Antarctica the expedition continues.
Photo: Patriot toilet and radio tent in back
Photo: View from twin otter
Pat contacted us here at 5.30pm yesterday to inform us they were given a green light for their return twin-otter flight to Patriot Hills. They reported that this should happen in approx 5 hours. The flight which takes approx. 7 hours to complete returns them to Patriot Hills, the main logistical base on the continent close to where they started skiing at Hercules Inlet on the 12th Novemebr.
LATEST at 12 noon on 11-01-08: This has just been confirmed, the team are currently on this twin otter flight to patriot hills. The weather is hampering all flights and looks like it will delay them getting off the continent to Chile until the 13th or 14th. They will spend the next few days on stand-by and will be in contact soon to discuss further arrangements to get home. They will also get another chance to talk to the press from there. The return date to Ireland is now looking like later on in the week, not the 16th as previously issued.
These dates will be decided later on today or tomorrow.
Hip, hip hoorah!! WE ARE AT THE SOUTH POLE!!
I am so excited, I can hardly sit still to write this! Yesterday morning we started skiing at 7.00am and could see the South Pole in the distance. It was just a black dot, but we didn't care, we were finally within reach of our goal.
The sun shone as we skied the final 20km; Polly and I couldn't stop grinning, knowing that after 58 days on the ice and 1,140km of skiing, we would soon get the chance to stand at the South Pole.
Nobody wanted to stop for breaks! We're all tired of eating the same food and are too keen to get there.
By 4.00pm we were walking along the runway towards the South Pole Station. Thirty minutes later we could see the international ceremonial flags which surround the South Pole globe.
"You go ahead first, Freddy, you have done the team proud." Clare called from behind. I slowly walked up to the globe, touched it, looked at myself in the glass and then broke into a huge smile. "Wow! We really are here!!" I shouted. Pat, Clare, Shaun and Jon stepped out of their skis and unclipped from their sleds. Together with Polly, we all hugged, cheered and waved the Irish flag. What a proud moment....one I will never forget - I am the first Irish bear to reach the South Pole, Polly the first penguin, Clare the first Irish female and all of us make up the first Irish team!
After taking some photos, we were met by the station master. She took us on a tour of the station where 243 people are currently working. It was so cool to step into the warmth of their canteen where we were treated to hot drinks and fresh cookies!
Our journey is finally over. Thank you to everyone at home who has followed our expedition. We've had a long, tough trip and all your messages have meant a lot to us.
I'm looking forward to getting home now.. See you when we get there!
Freddy & Polly.
Clare O Leary has been helping Freddy write his blogs since he left Ireland. Her enthusiasm and commitment for keeping it updated is a fantastic achievement and may help children get involved and learn about their expedition experience. Great job Clare.
A call was just received confirming the teams arrival at the South Pole at 4.30pm Chilean time.
We will be compiling these dispatches properly when we get time...
7th January - Day 57 - only 23km to go.
We can see it. The excitement is rising.
Today we were all in a contemplative mood as we made our final two days push for the pole. Each of us in silence trotted along towing our sleds.
To me the most amazing part of this journey is the time you get to think, to be with one's self. The pressure of the environment and survival make you forget the problems of modern day life. I get a chance to put my over active mind on a shelf for a while, to look deep inside Pat Falvey and see who I really am. Time to reflect, reassess my goals and objectives in life and act on them.
I love expedition life. It’s just a pity now that I’m getting older that I can’t stay at this level of adventure. But age brings new opportunity, I am looking forward to the new challenges that it is brining.
I’m starting the gray hair adventure club. You have to be over fifty to join. I have so many new adventures I have dreamed and schemed about on this expedition, they will keep me active until I’m eighty.
Mixed emotions deep down about tomorrow. Proud of our achievement in getting this far. Wondering what’s going to happen after we reach the pole.
The last 14 months have been a roller coaster of adventure.
I had the largest ever group cross South Georgia which was the start of the Beyond Endurance adventure.
Shaun Menzies was picked from that to continue on for training and has complete Greenland and now Antarctica.
We have skied 300 km in Norway.
As we couldn’t get sponsorship to cross all Antarctica, we simulated this by doing an unsupported 600km 30 day crossing of Greenland, in horrible conditions, due to global warming. Giving us another Irish first on the Greenland polar ice cap. Fascinating story. 1st Irish team. 1st Irish female, Dr Clare O Leary.
And now the finish of the Beyond Endurance expedition of 58 days 1,140 km here in Antarctica.
Tomorrow will start a new chapter in all of our lives.
I’m so looking forward to reaching the South pole.
Wow! I couldn't believe it when Clare told me this evening that we only have 70km left to ski to the South Pole!
Polly and I squealed with delight. Imagine we have been skiing for 55 days now- its hard to believe - we have already covered over 1,000km!
On the map, we can see how close we are getting to the Pole. We started at 80 degrees and have now reached 89 degrees - when we get to 90 degrees, we are there!
I'm trying to picture what the South Pole will look like, when we will be able to see it, who we will meet and what we will do there...
If everything goes according to plan, we should reach the Pole in 3-4 days - I can't wait!
Thank you to everyone who has sent good luck messages to Polly and me in the past few days - it is really helping us stay strong.
6th January - Day 56
Sunday 6th January, Day 56, 47km to go 1,099km of man-hauling done.
We now estimate that our arrival at the South Pole will be on Tuesday, that is all going well and no mishaps. We are excited at the thought of our journey coming to an end. We had another good day, hauling and skiing, the temperature was -22 degrees celcius with no wind and blue skies.
It is amazing how all the harsh times we have had on this expedition are starting to fade into the recesses of our minds as success is on the horizon. Two more days, just two more days. We are finding it hard to believe that what we went through was real and that it was all but just a dream. That is what is amazing about challenges. Already we are wondering, what’s next? But first lets get to the Pole.
All the team are now in good spirits, we have had our down days of battling the hostile environment of Antarctica and wondering, what the hell are we doing here. We are here because we want to be here and complete a historical voyage of discovery for ourselves and to honour our polar heroes. I’ll find it hard to sleep for the next two nights. I still can’t believe its nearly over. The training, the planning, the people we met along the way.
My father once said to me.
Son, your a dreamer, so dream and dream big. But remember it’s in the following of the dream is where the success lies. Achieving your goal is the bonus. Well we have dreamed big and followed them. We all had a great time on the way. Even if we didn’t reach the pole the journey was amazing. But now we will have the bonus for dreaming. We will stand at the south pole.
Thanks dad for those words of wisdom.
"Wake up, Freddy, it's 6.10!" I rubbed my eyes and tried to sit up. I couldn't believe it was morning already. Clare was cooking breakfast and had already packed most of her gear. "Hurry on, Freddy - we're starting earlier this morning; we leave at 7.30am."
I struggled out of my sleeping bag, while at the same time eating my breakfast. I really didn't want to be late - it is not fair to leave the others waiting in the cold - and I was afraid they might start without me!
My boots had frozen solid during the night and it took me ages to force my paws in. I could feel the hard ice inside and shivered as I left the tent.
We started at 7.30am as planned. I skied as fast as I could to try and warm up. I hadn't eaten a proper breakfast and soon felt hungry. The extreme cold here eats into your bones and uses lots of energy - that added to 8-9 hours skiing everyday is tough on our bodies.
As I skied behind Shaun and Jon, I could see how loose their clothes had become. Pat looks like a different person now and Clare like a stick insect.
I can't really see myself, but Polly tells me I am slowly disappearing! I have to work hard at eating everything - it gets so boring eating the same food day after day - I'm longing for a big home cooked dinner followed by my jar of honey!
5th January - Day 55
A heaven in hell…..What a beautiful day..
Camp; Joss Lynam and Jim Leonard.
Saturday, 5th January, Day 55, 70km to go, 1,076 km of man hauling done.
S 89.3737, W 082.1581
We are getting so excited; 3 days, yes just 3 days to go to the pole.
Antarctica is being kind to us for a change and the weather is holding well. Lets hope that it stays that way for the next few days. It would really be nice to finish our journey holding in mind the beauty of this place. We really don’t mind the cold once it doesn’t go above -30 degrees and its still air temperature. It’s the wind and the white out conditions that drive us crazy.
A heaven in hell.
It’s hard to describe what this place is like in words as I write from my tent, exhausted from the labour of my efforts just to get another day closer to the south pole. It is like nowhere else on this planet. You feel like you have come to a place that looks like heaven (white, pure, majestic and you feel you might even meet a few angels!) and then just to shock you into reality the real Antarctica shows its face. Your are battling sub-zero temperatures, storm force winds, white outs and then you wonder why. Why am I here, when you could be at home in front of a fire and watch a documentary about the place you are fighting to survive in. Then you get a day like today, beautiful, heaven-like, no angels and you have survived the traumas of 55 days in a place very few people will ever see or visit. For a small period in the history of our planet you will have experienced personally what its like to be in Antarctica and try and make a dream a reality. I can’t wait to get home to put my new lecture series together and bring to life our experiences. I know its the way I relive these amazing experiences, about how we honour our Irish Polar explorers. Shackleton, the boss and those unsung heroes Crean, Keohane, Forde and the McCarthy brothers.
I’m so excited as I go to sleep tonight, we have experienced the land of ice in all her moods and now she’s been kind to us. I have shocked myself, that what my critics have said would be impossible, is about to become a reality. Our beyond endurance team are within days of achieving our goals.
Tomorrow brings us another day closer to the pole. But we can’t take anything for granted, we are not there yet. Closing another day here in the freezer. Good night.
Camp; Joss Lynam and Jim Leonard – Two people I hold in high esteem.
Joss Lynam, has been at the forefront of Irish mountaineering since it begun. He is the father of Irish mountaineering, he has encouraged many to follow there dreams. He has followed his own dreams with conviction and passion.
Jim Leonard, A friend, an adviser and once again one of those that has been involved in Irish mountaineering since the start. Thanks Jim for your help and advice on many issues over the years..
I’m now in my fifties and I hope as I get older, I aspire to have there drive and enthusiasm for adventure. Life begins, when your ready to live it. So live it. Life is not a rehearsal. It’s a performance. Age has no bounds. We just dream different dreams.
To the future, no matter what age we are.
Yippee! Finally a rest day and a chance to celebrate Christmas. We've had a really tough week here on the ice and are all exhausted from skiing (over 900km!), hauling, pulling and dragging. Everyone looks very tired and too thin. Pat is still in pain but is managing to pull his own sled; Polly and I have been helping Clare out with the digging, sawing and cooking so that Pat doesn't have to bend his back. As a treat for our rest day, Jon cooked Christmas dinner. It was a real treat not to have to eat out of a plastic bag! We had potato cakes, quiche and banoffi pie all made out of dried food! Amazing job! I had completely forgotten to bring anyone Christmas presents, but was really chuffed when Clare gave me a wooly hat, Jon gave me a new toothbrush and Shaun gave me a homemade card. We listened to some Christmas music and Shaun played the tin whistle. It was a lovely evening and I wished I could stay in bed for one more day.